A road trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles begins in the beautiful Bay Area and can take you along the picturesque California coast the entire way. Although you can get from one city to the other in about six hours, you'll want to spend several days exploring the beaches, parks, wineries, and other California landmarks along the way. You could easily spend a week or more enjoying this road trip.
Half Moon Bay State Beach
Half Moon Bay State Beach is in a cove once popular with alcohol smugglers during Prohibition. It's now a beautiful section of beach and water, with green cliffs leading down to brown sand and the brilliant blue ocean. Splash in the water, go surfing, or hike the nearby trails.
Henry Coe State Park
Henry Coe State Park, just south of San Jose, is the largest state park in northern California. Coyote Creek runs through the park, and there are miles of hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails.
Big Basin Redwoods State Park
Big Basin Redwoods State Park has ancient redwoods that rival the height of the Statue of Liberty. Hike some of the 80 miles of trails through old-growth forest and see beautiful views of the park and beyond.
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park
Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park has amazing views along California's Central Coast. The park is around the Big Sur River, and is often called a "mini Yosemite" thanks to the mountains, trees, and amazing views. You may encounter bobcats, black-tail deer, skunks, and more in the park.
Point Mugu State Park
Point Mugu State Park is about an hour north of Los Angeles and encompasses a variety of terrain and ecosystems. Walk along the beach, hike along a river canyon, or explore the Santa Monica Mountains. The park has more than 70 miles of trails for hiking or mountain biking.
Crystal Cove State Park
Just south of Los Angeles lies Crystal Cove State Park. You'll find 3.2 miles of beach, plus backcountry wilderness. A historic district within the park features 46 old cottages from the 1930s and 40s.
When mapping out your road trip itinerary from San Francisco to Los Angeles, you may want to include several points of interest.
You can take a ferry to visit the infamous prison just off the coast of San Francisco. Tour the former maximum security prison and learn more about the prison and the island's complicated history.
Visit the opulent estate of media mogul William Randolph Hearst in San Simeon. Hearst Castle is almost exactly in-between San Francisco and Los Angeles, so it makes a great spot to stop and explore. You can tour the Grand Rooms, the Upstairs Suites, or the Cottages and Kitchen on the estate and learn more about Hearst's history.
Grauman’s Chinese Theatre
A visit to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre transports you back in time to the Golden Age of Hollywood. You can see hand and footprints (and Groucho Marx's cigar print) in cement outside the theater. Admire the architecture of one of the oldest theaters in Los Angeles, and take a VIP tour if you want a closer look at this iconic film house.
The Griffith Observatory, inside LA's Griffith Park, is a great landmark to visit for several reasons. The exhibits and planetarium will fascinate anyone interested in science and space. However, if you're a film buff, the observatory has also been in countless movies including La La Land, Jurassic Park, The Terminator, and Rebel Without a Cause.
The fastest route from San Francisco to Los Angeles is down the 5 Freeway through the middle of the state. However, this isn't the prettiest route by any means. If you're looking for a scenic RV road trip, the Pacific Coast Highway is an unparalleled drive with amazing ocean views almost the entire way. Because PCH is a highway, the drive takes longer. The 101 Freeway is a good compromise between the speed of the 5 and the beauty of PCH - it takes slightly longer than the 5, but has the coastal views of PCH for good portions of the drive.
Pacifica is known for its surfing, and this little beach town is a great spot to stretch your legs! Go hiking, sit on the sand, or try whale watching from the bluffs. You'll find several nearby RV campgrounds, many of which are on the beach or with amazing beach views.
Gilroy, California is proudly known as the Garlic Capitol of the World, a fact you won't be able to miss as you can smell the crop when you pull into town. Visit during the Gilroy Garlic Festival for a chance to eat garlic ice cream and sample all sorts of other garlicky wares (but don't worry, even if the festival isn't going on you can still find lots of garlic-flavored foods!). You'll find plenty of campgrounds in Gilroy and nearby San Jose. If you're visiting in the summer months, you'll appreciate an RV campground with a pool so you can cool off.
San Luis Obispo
San Luis Obispo is home to a renowned university, a mission, and a vibrant downtown area with walkable restaurants and shops. There are plenty of RV campgrounds, and many of them are on the beach.
Los Olivos is a great small town to visit in the middle of Santa Barbara Wine Country. Go wine tasting, pamper yourself at a spa, or enjoy a day shopping and eating in downtown Los Olivos. There are plenty of nearby campgrounds in Los Olivos or in nearby Santa Barbara.
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